Monday, October 31, 2011

Surviving Another Halloween

"Brian are you ready for trick or treating? "

One simple question that brought on a tantrum like no other.

He threw himself on the floor as I held his Scooby Doo costume that he picked out and repeated, "Remember you get candy! ".

Twenty minutes elapse and nothing has changed except I have an anxious Corbin at the door waiting for his brother.

Finally Brian rips the costume out of my hands and throws it on,though still screaming through the whole ordeal.

He runs outside still crying and howling. Imagine how much louder he gets when I approach him with a hat and mittens.

I'm wishing, at this point, we could just skip the whole tradition. However, I have another child who had been waiting for this night to arrive for weeks.

We drive to our usual Halloween neighborhood and Brian immediately jumps out of the car still screaming.

I'm starting to wish I brought noise-cancelling headphones for myself.

Instead of saying "Trick or Treat" at the doors he just cries obnoxiously and knocks over any children in his way.

Six houses later I realize he has stopped crying.

Is that a smile?

Now he's leading the group of kids we're with.

When I ask him to wait for the other kids he does all while saying "Gotta gotta gotta walk! ".

He never once tried to go into a stranger's home. That's huge progress from previous years.

He always took just one piece of candy and always grabbed something he knew he could have (lots of lollipops).

It was a rocky start for sure but we persevered and conquered another holiday.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Next Tim Gunn

I had the pleasure and privilege to go to the Bare Truth Project gala this past week.  It was a gala celebrating the work of three photographers who decided to do a collection of breast cancer survivors and their scars to raise awareness.  My friend Amy was one of the beautiful models and I wanted to support her however I could.


There was the issue of what to wear.

I'm very indecisive.  Just putting that out there.

I sent pictures of different outfits to probably no less than 15 close friends asking for their advice until I finally had it narrowed down to two dresses.

The night before the event I was once again trying on both dresses and trying to make a decision.

Corbin came into my bedroom and looked at both dresses and pointed to the black-and-white one and said "Mom, that's just a regular dress."  He then started stroking the sparkly-neutral dress and said, "But this one.  This one is like gold.  It's something special."

I laughed...but he was right.  He knew what he was talking about.

Corbins' Pick.
I told my Aunt the story the next day and she said, "Corbin's the Tim Gunn of the next generation."

And she's so right.

The kid knows fashion.  I'm not saying that he really cares about what he looks like every single day but when he wants to look good he does it.  He puts together combinations I wouldn't even think about.

He loves fedoras and ties and popping his collar.

He notices when I have new shoes and always comments on them.

He's definitely been brought up by a single mother.

Just another reason I love that kid.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24.

Every year I do a similar post and I may be running out of things to say about it.

However, every year I wake up and look at the calendar and a big rush of emotions come out when I realize it's October 24th.

October 24th was Corbin's duedate 9 years ago.  I'm not sure why his due date always sticks out to me so much but I have a feeling it's because he made me wait TWO WEEKS to meet him.

He doesn't like to do things the easy way, never has, and I cherish him teaching me all of these lessons while I wait for him to reach goals in his own way.  The first gift he gave me was patience.

Love that boy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finding That Balance

Lately I have been submerging myself in work.  I'm so excited about all of the new learning I've been doing that I can feel my neurons doing the happy dance.  The world is starting to make sense to me, I'm starting to make sense to myself, my clients are starting to make sense to me, and most importantly my children are starting to make sense to me.

I feel blessed that I'm working in a position that allows that carryover to happen right here in my very own home.  It makes me ecstatic to think about all of the new things I can try with the boys and I feel refreshed when I can let go of baggage and go at a difficult situation (example: studying spelling words with Corbin) with a whole new outlook.

However, as excited as I am and as much as I  feel like I'm  going to burst at the seams with happiness over this new knowledge, I'm finding it hard to keep my energy level going all day with my clients and come home and have that same energy level for the most two important children in my life.

It's about finding that balance and I'm still searching for it right now.

I come home from work, most nights after 6:00, and I'm tired.  The kids are tired too after a full day of school (where they're being slaughtered with executive higher-learning functions when they aren't ready for it- but that's a whole other post), then they have therapy, or an after-school sport, or if they are lucky just an afternoon at the pond looking at the natural habitat and trading praying mantises for tadpoles.

Then I come home and I have to make dinner.  Then we have to do homework.  Then baths.  Then supplements.  Then bedtime.  Bedtime would be the time that I try to sneak in a little bit of reflex integration...but some nights I'm even too tired for that- because I'm thinking about the dishes I've left in the sink or the group I have to do in the morning or the fact that if I don't do laundry I might not have a clean towel after my shower in the morning.

I know this is still new for me- the working full-time bit and the not-having-another-adult-in-the-house bit- and it will take patience and shifting of our routines to feel really comfortable.

Despite the difficulties it has added to our lives and our routines I don't feel that guilt piece at all.  And that makes me know that I'm doing the right thing.   I know that everything I'm doing is making a better life for all three of us.  I know that everything I'm learning, with the purpose of learning to be a better occupational therapy practitioner, is in turn making us into a better family.  What more could you ask for in a job?

Now that I've rambled, are you a working parent?  How do you make it work for your family?

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Inside Scoop with Corbin

I'm slow.  And I'm busy.  But I finally got around to posting this interview I did with Corbin after being hit up with a meme from Karen over at Solodialogue.  

You know how memes work- they have rules- you HAVE to follow them or you will be stuck with bad luck for seven years (okay, not really, but it does kind of remind me of those chain letters) and then you pass it on to some other lucky bloggers to carry it out.

This one was fun and I'm sure Karen was hoping I would interview Brian but I'm just going to admit that this blog post wouldn't have happened until like December if I had to make up all the communication boards for him to answer each question...unfortunately he's not at the stage where he can verbally answer any question other than how to spell things.  Even "yes" and "no" questions have proven to be difficult as of late.

I took the questions directly from her blog and asked my oldest boy, who of course loves to be included in these things.  Without further ado....(and with no  correction of syntax)....

  • What do you want to do when you grow up? I will want to be a scientist.
  • Favorite holiday? Christmas.  What makes it best? Because you get too much toys.
  • If you could live anywhere, where would move? Somewhere that do not have too much kids.
  • Who is your best friend? Jacob.  What do you like about him? He's so tough.
  • What toy would you buy for your best friend’s birthday? Whatever he likes.
  • What do you want for your own birthday? I want a pet.
  • What family rule do you think is the most unfair? No playing DSi until your room is clean.  Why?   Because I love playing my DSi.

Now who would like to join in on the bandwagon?  I'm not going to link to anyone...I'm such a party pooper aren't I?  I'm exhausted after a 9 hour conference today.  Excuses, excuses, right?  Please feel free to interview your little one and leave a link in my comments because I'd love to read them!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Playground Education

From the backseat Corbin’s voice rose, “Mom, when soccer is done will you please sign me up for karate classes?”

We had been talking about doing so for a while so I replied, “Yes, I told you we would look into it after soccer.”

A moment of hesitation and his voice rose again.  “I really need to know karate Mom.” Pause. “For the big kids on the playground who make fun of Brian.”

I tried to keep the van on the road as I quickly went through the emotions of surprised, shocked, sad, and angry.

After I had myself in check I calmly asked him to explain what the kids were saying and why they were saying it.

Corbin went on to tell me that he likes to tell people about autism.  He said, “I want Brian’s autism to be gone Mom, I really do.  But autism is also cool sometimes.  It’s hard to understand so I want the other kids to know about it.”  A month or so ago I told Corbin that people’s hate usually stems from ignorance and I think the kid took it to heart and wants to educate the world. 

I told him I completely agreed and that Brian’s autism has taught both of us a lot of things and made us really great people because we are tolerant of differences and we even embrace differences.   I told him that sometimes autism made for really fun things for us to do like jumping on couches, having a swing in our kitchen, and going to really fun ASM retreats.

He told me that the kids he’s been growing up with since Kindergarten seem to really like to hear about it, but the bigger boys on the playground repeatedly say things like “Autism is stupid”, “Brian can’t talk because he is dumb”, and even remarks such as “Brian has to have cold lunch every day because he is stupid.” (Really guys?  Cold lunch means he’s stupid?  Really grasping for some straws there.)

Why are people so mean?  I was going to ask why are kids so mean?  But it’s not just kids.  Kids learn it from their parents, other significant adults, and of course media.  It broke my heart for Brian and for the challenges I’m sure he’s going to continue to face as he grows older.  However, I think it broke my heart even more for Corbin who is such an amazing older brother that just wants to educate the playground.  He is proud of his brother and he is proud about his own knowledge about autism and to have a “bigger boy” or group of them to challenge it right to your face and call your little brother “stupid” is heartbreaking.  It’s heartbreaking for me, how does it feel to my 8-year-old son? 

Every year I’ve done a small awareness project for Brian’s classmates.  Sometimes I talk to them a little bit about it and sometimes I just send home kid-friendly brochures on autism.  I think it might be time for a school-wide awareness project especially since this school is housing “The Autism Program” in our district (whole other joke- believe me, we’re still heavily working on that one). 

I need to take my own advice and hope that knowledge will eradicate ignorance and bullying and just plain mean spirits.  And I think Corbin is going to be my co-partner on this one- he clearly knows what he is doing.  Absolutely love that kid.

Oh and the conversation on karate and how it can’t be used on bullies will have to take place on another day when I am over feeling immensely proud of my son for talking about autism on the playground.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Tonight Corbin brought me the book, Wit and Wisdom from the Parents of Special Needs Kids, (by the way, have you heard of it?) and asked me to read the section that I wrote.

I started to read, while editing the few parts I didn't want him to hear (late night margarita anyone?).  Corbin sat near me intently listening.  Brian jumped around the room unaware of what was going on.

As I finished Corbin looked up at me and said, "Good job Mom".

Brian stopped flapping and jumping and walked over to me.  He PATTED MY ARM and said "Good job" while looking me in the eye.  Yes the "good job" was probably in imitation but he added the pat all by himself.

Go ahead, reread that part. 

Patted my arm, said "Good job", and looked me in the eye.

Goosebumps.  I've still got them.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thoughtful Recap

On Tuesday I had the last phone appointment covered under the Bright Eyes grant with The Johnson Center (formally known as The Thoughtful House).

Just like every appointment I've had with them- whether it be by phone or in person- it lifted me up just when I was starting to feel very "stuck" and in a place of losing motivation.

It was bittersweet, to say the least.

I entered our family into the grant application process without ever really thinking we stood a chance.  And when Brian was one of fifty children picked out of a pool of FIVE HUNDRED, I could hardly believe it.

When I look back over the year I am amazed at how much we've been able to change and implement and how much progress Brian has made.

Talking to the nutritionist this time I was feeling down about how much Brian's diet is lacking in minerals and vitamins and she told me to stop and then she started to recite where his levels were a year ago.  And it blew my mind at how much better his diet is now.

I think about where he was academically and how much progress he has made.

I think about how when we first went down to Texas Brian never slept.  And now a night with any waking is the exception.

I think about the unexplained tantrums he was having and how they were explained by realizing his gut situation and how repairing that took away the tantrums.

I think about how much pleasure it brought me to hear family members exclaim over how well he was tolerating family events.

Some days are hard for sure.  Yet when I put it into perspective and can really think back to where we were a year ago....well, it brings me to tears.

The Johnson Center isn't going to get rid of us that easily as we will be staying on as clients, only now we'll be scraping by and having to be a bit more choosier on the tests we choose to do.  But with the gifts they gave us over this year there is no way we could leave their family.  They have given us hope, happiness, and knowledge.  They have opened a door in Brian that some professionals would have us believe he didn't have.

Thank you to the Johnson Center and of course to the anonymous donor who made the Bright Eyes Grant available in the first place.  You really have changed my little boy's life.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Teeny-Tiny Moments

For some reason our pediatrician's fax machine does not like our pharmacist's fax machine.

Everytime we need something filled he faxes it over and we go to pick it up to find out that they never got his fax.

Today we went to try to pick up a new allergy medication that we are going to give a shot for Brian's chronic, going-on-five-weeks cough.  Only to be told they hadn't recieved the script.  This was actually the second time we had gone to pick it up to not find it there.

We left the pharmacy, left a message at the pediatricians and went home.

Not too soon after the nurse gave me a call apologizing profusely.  She told me she had given up on the fax machine and had called it in and that we could go back out and pick it up.

Yeah.  Okay.

Brian had just had a full day of school, gone to the pharmacy and to the grocery store.  We were home and he was in his pajamas within two minutes of walking through the door.  One could not expect me to get him to go back out in public without crying and public displays of tantrumming (PDTs).

Sometimes, it's those teeny-tiny moments, that make me realize how different our lives are.  No, not the fact that I just listened to the same line in Aristocats 378 times in a row or that I have a crash pad and swing set up in my kitchen.  Nope, just that nonchalant comment that I could just go back out in public, like it's the easiest thing in the world.